AT&T plans to roll out cheaper, ad-supported phone plans starting next year

AT&T Sign Storefront
AT&T Sign Storefront (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • AT&T CEO John Stankey has revealed that the carrier plans to introduce phone plans subsidized by ads as soon as a year from now.
  • The carrier is hoping to sell ads at higher rates by "fine-tuning ad targeting."
  • AT&T WarnerMedia is also expected to roll out an ad-supported tier of HBO Max next year.

AT&T is planning to revive the idea of ad-supported phone services. In an interview with Reuters, CEO John Stankey revealed that the carrier is hoping to offer wireless phone plans subsidized by ads "in a year or two."

"I believe there's a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a $5 or $10 reduction in their mobile bill, " Stankey said.

Ad-supported phone services were first rolled out in the early 2000s by carriers like Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile. As noted by Reuters, however, those plans failed to gain traction. AT&T hopes that it will be able to successfully revive the idea with better ad targeting.

AT&T engineers are already working on unified customer identifiers, which will enable marketers to "identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant advertising." However, the carrier is likely to face significant privacy challenges with the technology, as there is now greater awareness among people about how tech giants track their information across platforms.

Stankey believes that the rollout of a new ad-supported tier of the company's HBO Max streaming service in early 2021 will serve as a "foundational element" for new ad inventory, and would be key to ad-supported phone plans.

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Babu Mohan
News Writer
  • They can't compete with the T-Mobile they have the best plans and soon to be #1!!!!!!!!
  • Better be more than $5/$10 to deal with ads popping up in your face all the time. 
  • ROFLMAO...absolutely NO WAY HOE-ZAY!
    I wouldn't accept totally free access in exchange for any ads at all!
  • LOL! No. Absolutely not.
  • Man, AT&T is going down the wrong path to customer satisfaction. Instead of wasting their engineer's time on trying to target customers for ads, which nobody wants, why don't they work on allowing customers to use their services on unlocked phones, like WiFi calling, VOLTE, We, the customers pay the same price for their services whether the phone is a locked AT&T branded phone or an unlocked phone. It's not like you get a discount on service for using an unlocked phone. This ad in your face idea is just stupid, especially if they are thinking a $5 or $10 discount is really going to matter. Wrong path their AT&T. And the excuse of the phone not registered on their system because it's unlocked is total BS, T Mobile has no problem being able to do it. As someone stated, it won't be long before T Mobile starts taking customers from AT&T.